THE SHOW "Family Guy"
WHEN | WHERE Sunday at 9 p.m. on Fox
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Stewie Griffin has a time machine -- don't ask how, he just does -- but Brian discovers it's a good way to (umm) bring women home from bars. He takes a few on some time-travel trips, then realizes belatedly the odometer on the machine will show use, thus angering Stewie. So he tries to rewind the thing. Something bad happens, of course: The entire continuum of time begins to flow in reverse. Only Stewie and Brian are "isolated from its temporal inversion." Why? Long story -- don't ask about that, either. This -- the 200th episode -- is entitled "Yug Ylimaf," and you may be assured that references to vomit and poop will be generously included.
MY SAY "Family Guy" is, was and apparently always will be sick, twisted, perverse and -- here's where I risk having my TV critic's license revoked or perhaps even burned -- very, very funny. In fact, Sunday's backward episode is also surprisingly inventive (amazing, the things highly paid Harvard-educated TV writers can do with vomit and baby poop gags).
But what's so funny about any of this? Well, watch Peter Griffin get in a fistfight with a giant chicken -- specifically Ernie the giant chicken, and in reverse, naturally -- and I dare you not to laugh . . . out loud. It's pretty much impossible not to. This said, at 200, "Guy," like any other late-middle-aged show, is doing what it's done the past 199 episodes -- going to reliable punch lines and playing to the audience's pre-pubescent bordering-on-Neanderthal sense of humor (which, by the way, works for me).
Yes, this show has contributed mightily to the coarsening of American popular culture -- a feat it's particularly proud of -- but also think of "Family Guy" as a running commentary on that debased culture and TV in particular. Remember that old ad, "this is your brain on drugs"? "Family Guy" effectively insists that this is your brain on television: Watch too much of the boob tube or "Family Guy" and you, too, could turn into Peter Griffin.
BOTTOM LINE Twisted, coarse, gross and -- at points -- hilarious. What's not to like?